Longtime Seattle designated hitter Edgar Martinez suffered a somewhat alarming setback in his bid for baseball immortality Wednesday.
Martinez, in his second year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, lost ground in the voting turned in by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).
After getting 195 votes, accounting for 36.2 percent of the total number of votes last year, Martinez saw his support fall to 191 votes and 32.9 of the votes cast in a competition where it takes 75 percent voter approval to make the grade.
Second baseman Roberto Alomar (523 votes, 90.0 percent) and starting pitcher Bert Blyleven (463, 79.7) were the only players with votes for enshrinement this time around in Cooperstown. They will join former Seattle general manager Pat Gillick for the induction ceremony July 24.
Martinezs candidacy is at the center of a minor storm, voters divided on just how much milestone numbers 3,000 hits, 500 homers being the principals count towards enshrinement in Cooperstown as opposed to a career spent as a DH.
After suffering a knee injury early in his career, two-time American League batting champion Martinez spent very little time in the field, but did such great work as the Seattle DH, including a .312 career batting average built on 2,247 hits, that he set the standard to such a degree that the DH of the Year award is named for him.
There are voters who dont believe in the DH as a full-time position, and voters who mark players down for time spent as a DH. The only player in the Hall of Fame now with substantial DH time is Paul Molitor, and half of his career was spent playing in the field. Martinez, on the other hand, spent more than three-quarters of his career as the Seattle DH and voters seem to be acutely aware of his lack of time in the field.
Martinez is, in fact, the only player for whom a major baseball award is named who is not in the Hall of Fame.
It could be a while before Martinez, a seven-time All-Star and the owner of 309 homers and 1,261 career RBIs, gets there, if he ever does.
Blyleven, who didnt get approval until the 14th of the allowable 15 years spent on the ballot, seemed to offer comfort to Martinez. The pitcher had his ups and downs with voters en route to Cooperstown.
“Its been frustrating over the years, Blyleven said. “Some years I would see (his vote total) go down. It wasnt until last year, when I went from 62 percent to 74 percent and being five votes short that I felt I was getting close.
Martinez still has another 13 years on the ballot. As was the case with Blyleven, he should be prepared for a see-saw ride.
John Hickey is also a Senior MLB Writer for AOL FanHouse (www.fanhouse.com)